Column: Kevin Durant, the OKC Media, and the passion of a college town


Let me preface this by saying, this is an Oklahoma Sooner blog. We are not in the business of reporting on the Oklahoma City Thunder, or criticizing the Thunder.

However, this morning, The Oklahoman published a headline that sent the internet in to a tail spin, and as someone who lives in the area, let me try to provide some local perspective.

Via @stevelackmeyer

“Mr. Unreliable.” That is how The Oklahoman’s sports section described the former Texas Longhorns star Kevin Durant.

He has been the centerpiece for Oklahoma’s first professional basketball team since its inception in 2008, and he continues to be one of the biggest faces in the league today.

He will more than likely take home the NBA’s Most Valuable Player trophy this year after doing things on the court no regular player should do.

Durant is the icon OKC has needed for sometime.

However, here is the thing about success and stardom. People only care about the now.

And right now, the Thunder are facing elimination after much of the fan base thought this team could go the distance and secure the city and state’s first ever major league championship.

OKC has been in a dogfight with the Memphis Grizzlies, and tonight’s Game 6 should be no different.

This headline, though, is not a definitive statement or character analysis of KD. It is merely the media doing its job. Or at least, The Oklahoman being the The Oklahoman.

They hold public headline-writing contests on Twitter after each Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and OKC Thunder game. They know headlines sell and they want their readers to have a reason to pick up the newspaper in the morning.

So it is funny to me when Thunder fans get a little upset over a headline The Oklahoman wrote themselves.

Let’s be clear, the media has a right to its opinion. Especially in the subject of sports, because most of its coverage is based on opinion—and sometimes bias.

There is only one professional sports team in the state that everyone can get behind, and this is not a state accustomed to professional sports.

It’s all about the Sooners and Cowboys, and when something is wrong with the team, The Oklahoman has never hesitated to point out their downfalls.

And that’s not a bad thing. The Oklahoman should not sugar-coat anything. Nor should anyone expect them to write in a manner.

Here’s my problem with the outrage. I understand why fans get upset over discouraging OU or Oklahoma State headlines and columns. Some people, not everyone, paid money to attend those institutions. They invested time and hard work in to a school they called home for a significant part of their youth.

No one appreciates someone they’ve never met calling out their school, though. And the Thunder get treated too much like a college team.

Relatively, the Thunder are OKC’s first son. They are the pride and joy of a state that has suffered through some very tough tragedies.

Announcers on ESPN, TNT you name it comment on the Thunder’s home crowd bringing a college atmosphere to the professional ranks.

It is unnecessary when fans and media expect too much out of 19-year-old football and basketball players who go to Norman or Stillwater. Although, at the University of Oklahoma, standards are very high and young student-athletes are treated as professionals.

However, Durant is a professional. He is really not that much older than most students in college, but he gets paid a lot of money to put an orange ball through a hoop.

So for the criticism, it is not unwarranted.

Understand, The Oklahoman got you to do what they wanted you to do. Read their paper.

Overall, the fine people of Oklahoma City and Thunder fans everywhere need to develop a thicker skin and an open mind and not mix college with pro sports teams.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the passion, I love the Thunder home crowd, but I do not love fans who understand the media has a job.

The OKC Twitter-sphere is so quick to call for the heads of Westbrook or Scott Brooks, but call out Kevin Durant, and that’s like going after Adrian Peterson or Sam Bradford. You just don’t do that.

I’m not saying it’s a correct or incorrect statement to call Mr. Durant, “Mr. Unreliable.” He has done a lot of great things wearing the OKC colors, and I feel a lot of the Thunder’s shortcomings falls on his supporting cast.

However, he is a player living in the shadow of the best basketball player in the world right now, he has yet to bring home a shiny championship trophy, and if the OKC media feels the need to motivate the city’s brightest star, let them.

OKC has their backs against the wall to a team probably more fit for a four or five seed. And tonight, I feel the Thunder will take to the Grizzlies like the Sooners did to the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The media, local and national, wrote off the Sooners. They were a team not fit to be on the same field with Nick Saban and the mighty Crimson Tide.

However, the Sooners went out on to the field for the 2014 Allstate Sugar Bowl and beat up an Alabama team no one would bet against.

There are a lot of differing opinions on the matter. We’d love to hear yours.

Tonight, the Thunder face elimination. Game 6 is set for a 7 pm CST tipoff on TNT. This will be a fun one to watch.